16: Toledo – The Ex You’re Still Friends With

I’ve always made it a rule I can’t repeat a place but I never said it couldn’t be my hometown. Toledo, the armpit of Ohio, the backyard of Detroit and Ann Arbor’s less attractive step-sister. Everyone’s bitch but no one’s enemy. The ex you’ve managed to stay friends with but secretly wish they don’t find happiness before you. Toledo is a place of many faces but none of them are lies. One of the few cities where what you see is exactly what you get. Flooded with bars and restaurants to feed the basic bitches of America but it’s hard to say you can have a bad time here when everyone is just so friendly; so real. Walking into a store and having a conversation with the cashier about her children is the norm and when people smile at you chances are they mean it. In the same breath when people yell at you, they really mean it.

My family has been here my entire life. They’re spread from Toledo to Detroit while slowly migrating down to the dirty but Ohio is always home. I never wanted to go to college here but as soon as I did I immediately accepted and appreciated the decision. The campus is a collection of Ohio’s finest that maybe didn’t look to hard at other colleges before enrolling. Chances are if they did they were probably going to school to be an engineer or a doctor. Over 30% are commuters or locals (like myself) and the others got a perfect dose of college fun without moving too far from home. You also have your occasional bitty from San Diego or Florida, which is something I will never grow to understand. Our snowfall is ungodly but the pre-21 year olds still managed to stumble on ice behind the engineering building party hopping in high heels and hemlines. I did this, the underages before me did this, and if those after me aren’t doing this well they have a thing or two to learn.

Our downtown, once the brief home of my high school, is slowly but surely turning into something worth passing through. You can get from top to bottom in under seven minutes and if you have to pay even five bucks for parking the locals will complain about how expensive it is. Our baseball stadium is fun although you go more for the beer and fireworks than the team. Our Walleye hockey stadium is pretty boss considering I don’t care to know anything about the sport. Our spin on Chicago style pizza isn’t too shabby and you can buy a round of beers for under 20 bucks.

The Valentine Theatre is also downtown which happens to be one of my favorite buildings in the city. Maybe it’s because I used to work there as the PR Coordinator’s assistant. Possibly it’s because the building is old and breathtaking, which are two words not often used to describe the same thing. It could be that the staff is made up of some of the most hardworking and dedicated art enthusiasts I’ve ever met, but regardless it’s great. Opened in 1895 and revamped in 1999 they have shows from the Nutcracker to Hair! or Halloween themed dark comedy Evil Dead. The fixtures are all vintage and the inside is decked in gold and Crimson with a classic feel. Going up the the balcony and proofing grant applications while watching a rehearsal is one of those things that could get me through a day. If you’ve never been to a show there please do and if you have, well go again.

Sometimes I wonder why I don’t want to live here but at the end of the day it’s much like you ex you’ve managed to remain friends with. They’re awesome, nice, fun, and probably attractive. They have a great personality and an even better work ethic. They’ve simply got their shit together and when you think it over it makes sense to be with them until you remind yourself you broke up for a reason. They get annoying and frustrating, they don’t listen when it counts and when it all boils down they are a much better fit for someone else. Toledo is someone else’s happiness but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends.

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